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Animal Antics: A surprising number of new critters have been discovered. Will collectibles follow suit? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Wednesday, 18 September 2013 10:03

The woolly mammoth has been enshrined by manufacturers, such as this remarkable Fiesta version.
In Siberia, the skeletal remains of a woolly mammoth were unearthed. The preservation of the bones and tissues has scientists salivating about cloning!
When it comes to prehistoric creatures, I prefer mine in scaled-down collectible size. Here’s a fine woolly mammoth, courtesy of Wild Republic.
The great big beast has been handsomely re-created by Aurora.
Extinction doesn’t prevent a stuffed-animal tribute from occurring. Here is a captivating Douglas rendition.
The discovery of a cave snail, said to be “hauntingly beautiful,” could kick off a key chain craze.
Remember, how lucky rabbit foot charms were once everywhere!
Fueling the fever for key chain collecting is this Mezco interpretation of the Pink Teddy Bear’s Eyeball from AMC’s “Breaking Bad.”
Doesn’t this blobfish, newly crowned as the world’s “ugliest animal,” remind you of …
. . . cartoon character Ziggy!
The olinguito has been hailed as a cross between a housecat and a teddy bear. The newly discovered carnivorous mammal has star potential.
Cute and brand-new, the olinguito might be made as a stuffed animal in the near future. As cute as a teddy bear, though? No way!
The woolly mammoth has been enshrined by manufacturers, such as this remarkable Fiesta version.
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During this summer, when we were all seeking respite from the heat, an enclave of scientists in Siberia were working overtime to figure out how to use their nation’s permafrost to their advantage.

Now, I know this sounds like some kind of outlandish setup for a James Bond film. Envision folks in white lab coats, whispering feverishly to one another in a non-English language, talking about preservation, and past extinction, and future cloning. This event, however, wasn’t a made-up 007 adventure. Nope, it happened just a few months back and it was real.

Scientists found the remains of a woolly mammoth and immediately thoughts of “Jurassic Park” stomped through their minds. You would think that these guys and gals would know better. After all, they have PhDs. But, no, immediately conversations have sprung up regarding keeping the remains “on ice” and trying to find some living tissue among the deceased carcass. The overseas “best and the brightest” want to try their hands at cloning the prehistoric giant.

I’d like to go on record as saying, “Let sleeping dogs lie, or, in this case, let dirt-napping mammoths rest in peace.”

Still, science-fiction screenplays haven’t daunted the enthusiasm for trying to rejuvenate this hulking beast. I can only hope that the damage the 50-foot Woman wrought in her black-and-white movie might inspire these Siberians to think more clearly. Let’s hope that cooler heads prevail in that cold clime!

Reading about the possible re-emergence of the woolly mammoth made me wonder if there have been a lot of these creatures offered in the past. Yes, there have been, and I’ve rounded up an era’s worth of these critters.

Among the manufacturers I’ve showcased are Aurora, Douglas, Fiesta, and Wild Republic. Of course, if the cloning dream—or, more potentially, nightmare—happens, then there will be more stuffed versions of this animal stampeding across the aisles at 2014’s Toy Fair.

Interestingly, there’s been an abundance of animal discoveries this year. With news stories being so downright awful over the last couple of months, these animal reports are cheery and take our minds off how terrible human beings can be to one another. Just last week, a new type of cave snail was discovered. It is translucent and described as “hauntingly beautiful.” The snail species was found “hiding” deep in the bowels of a Croatian cavern. Given that “snail face-munching” is a new beauty treatment in Tokyo and other metropolitan capitals, I can’t blame the snail for burrowing down deep in the earth’s recesses, away from prying eyes and hands. (Face-munching is when snails are put on a spa customer’s face and allowed to “run” wild, eating any debris or flakes or skin impurities that they can find. It sounds absolutely dreadful!)

It would be difficult to make a cave snail stuffed animal, but I can see faux snail key chains. Sort of like the rabbit’s foot key chains that used to be advertised as good-luck charms. (Of course, if a rabbit’s foot is so darn lucky, how come it didn’t save the rabbit?!)

On the topic of key chains, I received an odd e-mail about one that is being introduced to tie in with the series conclusion of “Breaking Bad.” Apparently, an evil pink teddy bear has lurked in the background and foreground of that show. A replica of the pink teddy bear’s eye has been made by Mezco as a limited-edition collectible. The eye—fixed, unblinking, and staring—is said to be “judging” its owners. That’s downright creepy yet captivating. So, perhaps a cave snail is too pretty to dangle on a key chain. In that case, maybe 2013 or 2014 will see make-believe blobfish mascots. Officially deemed the world’s most hideous-looking creature, the blobfish has been named the official emblem of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society. When you look at its photo here on the blog, tell me what you think of it. To me, it’s like a cross between the comic-strip character Ziggy and the Abe Vigoda character Fish on “Barney Miller.” It truly is bizarre.

With the possibility of cave snails and blobfish and woolly mammoths heading down the path, aren’t there any new, cute critters? Well, yes, there are.

Advertised as a cross between a “domestic cat and a child’s teddy bear,” the olinguito was just discovered with a great deal of zoological fanfare. The first new, carnivorous mammal found and categorized in the Americas in the last 35 years, the furry creature got a lot of press.  The olinguito (which is Spanish for “little olingo”) is part of the raccoon family. Science writers and nature enthusiasts kept trumpeting its finding and ballyhooing it as the epitome of cuteness. In nearly every press report written about it—and teasingly narrated on TV news breaks—it is said to evoke the teddy bear.

Well, perhaps I am prejudiced in this arena. I’ve stared and stared, and gazed and gawked, but the olinguito is no teddy bear. It’s different, and it’s truly surprising that it’s just been located and classified, but it’s no match for any teddy bear in my hug. Let’s face it: When it comes to facial cuteness, our beloved Teddies win hands down!